If I am facing eviction for withholding rent because of a rodent problem, what can I do?

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If I am facing eviction for withholding rent because of a rodent problem, what can I do?

I live in public housing. We have withheld rent due to a rodent problem 3-5 mice running around the kitchen and hall closet daily and even in the stove. Also, there is a front door lock that violates safety policy. Additiinally, my family is having an on-going dilemma with another tenant. She is calling the office making accusations of delinquent behavior. The management office refuses to acknowledge our complaints of her on-going harassment telling us she’s a nice lady and believing her accusations without proper investigation. There are a slew of other issues we are afraid to report because they refuse to acknowledge it.

Asked on December 21, 2011 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You're not allowed to withhold rent due  to a rodent problem--that's not to say that you don't have the right to have the problem fixed, but this is the wrong way to go about it. The better way to resolve the situation is to pay the rent; provide the landlord (if you haven't already) written notice of the problems, sent in some way you can prove delivery (e.g. certified mail with return receipt; fed ex; fax, and keep the fax delivery report; etc.); then, if  the landlord does not fix the problem, bring a legal action seeking both compensation for the time you've been living with rodents (rent abatement for that period) and an order for the landlord to resolve the situation.

You an also address other issues at the same time--the front door; violation of your right to quiet enjoyment by the other tenant; etc. But first pay the rent, so you don't need to worry about eviction.


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